Throughout my collegiate experience, I have had the honor of being awarded numerous athletic and academic scholarships. Over the years, I have represented my athletic department and university in several banquets, retreats and conferences. On the field of competition, I stood as conference champion; however, in retrospect, as I slowly and tentatively exit college, I look back and recognize that my greatest achievement and contribution can be recognized in a single event.

In 2009, my teammate, roommate and best friend, Mike McGraw, and I created The Shaymus Relays. Shaymus Guinn is the nine year-old son of Tony Guinn, Western Illinois Women’s soccer coach. It was early 2009 when Shaymus was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. His treatments have taken place far away from the university, and consequently, his family has spent quite a bit getting to and from the treatment center. Shaymus’ treatments are still occurring and he is still fighting for his life. The goal of our pseudo track meet is to raise community awareness, support and funds for a very deserving family in order to help offset the increasing expenses.

With full support from the Western Illinois University track team, athletic department and SAAC, this event was very successful. 2009’s Shaymus Relays raised $11,000, while this year’s event raised $12,000. What was even more astounding was the number of participants that attended the event. The evening consisted of track and field activities for 1st through 6th graders, as well as a pair of events for the students of Western. Hundreds of people came out to participate in the event which lasted nearly four hours. Macomb, the hometown of Western Illinois University, should take great pride in supporting an event that inspires an entire community to surround a local family.

Shaymus’s father, Tony, commented from last year, “When you think about priorities in life, this was an event that I think the students will be happy they were a part of. There are always other things that need to be done, but it’s events like these that are life changing,” said Tony Guinn, Shaymus’ father, “Macomb is a little area with a big heart.” As an English major, I find myself using an abundance of quotes. I believe that if you’re not elegant enough to find the right words, you can be smart enough to find someone who has. With that, one of my favorite passages that I reference frequently comes from Henry Ford. He said, "To do more for the world than the world does for you - that is success.” This measure of success holds individuals to a high standard. As a student-athlete, one who has had the advantage of growing up with a caring family and being surrounded by incomparable friends, I admit that I still have much work to do. It is my belief that student-athletes are in a unique and ideal situation to help others. They have the skills and characteristics to make great things happen. Most importantly, the student-athletes who I have had the pleasure of knowing acquire an unparallel passion for anything they commit themselves to. It is here that I encourage others to create their own stories of success. I would also like to invite student-athletes to reply and share their similar experiences.

If you have any questions about The Shaymus Relays please email us at theshaymusrelays@gmail.com.  

 
This past year has been a whirlwind. I have graduated, applied to, been interviewed by, and been accepted to graduate schools, and finished my collegiate track career. Three weeks later, I have just now taken a step back and realized that the life I have known for the past four years is over. This is definitely a day that I now wish had waited another year…or two…to get here.

However, while I would love to spend more time studying at and competing for Western Kentucky University, I leave satisfied. I came to Bowling Green, Ky. seeking a college degree and an opportunity to compete against other college athletes. I did not expect anything else, but I have left WKU with what I came for and so much more.

My experience at WKU led me to learn much more than was required for a degree—I learned life lessons from athletics which will benefit me outside of the track. Having to balance school and sport, I learned how to make the most of every second whether it was in training, studying, meetings, classes, or races and from this, to give all of myself to all that I do.

From my injury-ridden career, I learned the importance in patience and perseverance. From improvements in competition and obtaining desired academic results, I saw the fruits of hard work and was able to further motivate myself. From my professors, I learned to work with people when something comes up. From my coaches, I learned the importance of preparation. And from my teammates, my friends, I learned the most. They would comfort me, humble me, encourage me, listen to me, talk to me, joke with me, be serious with me—they were there for me in whatever way I needed them. From them, I learned to be a better person.

Upon enrolling at WKU, I never thought my undergraduate career and participation in intercollegiate athletics would have the impact on me that it has had. I came to compete against the best (even if it was from quite a distance behind) and earn a degree. I am leaving with a degree, some lifelong friends, and having the opportunity to have raced against conference and national champions. I’m a better person, and better prepared for a life where I am and as the NCAA slogan goes, I am “…going pro in something other than sports.”